IPEd Conference 2021: Editing on the Edges

Pam Allen

Pam Allen

Pam Allen is Adjunct Associate Professor of Indonesian at the University of Tasmania, Australia. 

Her teaching and research areas are Indonesian language, literature and studies. In addition to publications on Indonesian literature, her research projects include a study of the Javanese diaspora in Suriname and New Caledonia. She publishes in Indonesian as well as English, and is an accredited translator. As a literary translator, she has published a large number of works in translation from Indonesian, covering short stories, novels and essays. 

She is a contributing editor for Lontar publishers in Jakarta and is part of the translation team for the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, held annually in Bali.

Literary Translation: The ‘ultimate act of betrayal’?

Most people listening to this will have read a book in translation, be it deliberately, unwillingly or unknowingly. 

Without complete fluency in the original language, how can you be sure that the translation is ‘faithful’ to the original? Does it matter? Is the translation - or should it be - an interpretation of or ‘equivalent’ to the original? 

These are some of the many ethical dilemmas faced by the literary translator. Our task is to apply our knowledge of the cultural, linguistic and social dimensions of the source language as we transform it into what we judge to be the most appropriate version in the target language, which of course comes with its own cultural, linguistic and social dimensions. Inevitably, along the way we make judgements and decisions about grammar, syntax and style, we take into account tone, register, voice and target audience, and we proofread, change and correct. 

Where then is the line between translating and editing? Is it true, to use the old adage, that translation is ‘the ultimate act of betrayal’?
Online, 28 to 30 June 2021
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